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Valley Youth Center eyes former Masonic lodge

A building that for a century was home to a fraternal order of men could someday be the next best place for kids to play in West Duluth. Valley Youth Center is eyeing the former Euclid Masonic Lodge at 611 N. Central Ave. as it looks for more roo...

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Valley Youth Center wants to buy the former Euclid Masonic Lodge at 611 North Central Avenue. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
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  A building that for a century was home to a fraternal order of men could someday be the next best place for kids to play in West Duluth. Valley Youth Center is eyeing the former Euclid Masonic Lodge at 611 N. Central Ave. as it looks for more room to give children ages 5 to 18 a positive place to play and grow. But first the nonprofit needs a hand. "We need a business plan, to have someone who could come in and help us see how this comes together for us," said Russ Salgy, Valley Youth Center's executive director. "The main goal is we're trying to get into a building that will facilitate the needs of the kids in our area."
Salgy says the center has money in the bank to buy the building, but not enough for a full refurbishing job that includes making the place handicapped accessible. "Things like that, it's going to get way more costly than what we have in the bank," he said. The agency, in its current location up the street at Laura MacArthur Elementary School, has about 2,000 square feet for its programs. The Masonic lodge is a two-story building with 8,400 gross square feet. Potentially quadrupling in size will help what's become a tight squeeze at the school. "We serve a big clientele of elementary kids, then add in the teen population in a small area - you want to give them room to grow," Salgy said. Built in 1908, the building was last used around 2007 when the Euclid Lodge moved to the downtown Masonic Temple. "Our membership was dwindling and our revenue was going down; our own building became to be too much for us," said Masonic Lodge member Bob Lambert. "You see that with the Moose and Elks and everybody." The lodge removed and kept some of the woodwork and doors thinking they might be of use, but Lambert said they might be better suited to whoever next inhabits the building. "It was a beautiful building, a real nice building," he said. Salgy appealed to the West Duluth Business Club last week for any assistance and to remind them of the struggles faced by many children in low-income homes in the area. "Being happy as a kid should happen all the time," he said. Donations and any in-kind help could speed along the move; Salgy said the grant money he's pursuing wouldn't come through until spring 2018 at the earliest, so the work now is preliminary. The lodge building is listed for about $125,000, and costs to get the building up to snuff are as yet unknown Whether Valley Youth Center picks up and moves completely or splits time between the spaces remains to be seen, he said. Plenty remains to be seen. "We also have dreams," Salgy said of the potential new location. "A garden on the rooftop, a community garden; we've talked about an adjacent gymnasium ... At the kitchen in the basement we could do some meals for the neighborhood, and some of the office space might be able to be sublet out." A building that for a century was home to a fraternal order of men could someday be the next best place for kids to play in West Duluth.Valley Youth Center is eyeing the former Euclid Masonic Lodge at 611 N. Central Ave. as it looks for more room to give children ages 5 to 18 a positive place to play and grow. But first the nonprofit needs a hand."We need a business plan, to have someone who could come in and help us see how this comes together for us," said Russ Salgy, Valley Youth Center's executive director. "The main goal is we're trying to get into a building that will facilitate the needs of the kids in our area."
Salgy says the center has money in the bank to buy the building, but not enough for a full refurbishing job that includes making the place handicapped accessible."Things like that, it's going to get way more costly than what we have in the bank," he said.The agency, in its current location up the street at Laura MacArthur Elementary School, has about 2,000 square feet for its programs. The Masonic lodge is a two-story building with 8,400 gross square feet.Potentially quadrupling in size will help what's become a tight squeeze at the school."We serve a big clientele of elementary kids, then add in the teen population in a small area - you want to give them room to grow," Salgy said.Built in 1908, the building was last used around 2007 when the Euclid Lodge moved to the downtown Masonic Temple. "Our membership was dwindling and our revenue was going down; our own building became to be too much for us," said Masonic Lodge member Bob Lambert. "You see that with the Moose and Elks and everybody."The lodge removed and kept some of the woodwork and doors thinking they might be of use, but Lambert said they might be better suited to whoever next inhabits the building. "It was a beautiful building, a real nice building," he said.Salgy appealed to the West Duluth Business Club last week for any assistance and to remind them of the struggles faced by many children in low-income homes in the area."Being happy as a kid should happen all the time," he said.Donations and any in-kind help could speed along the move; Salgy said the grant money he's pursuing wouldn't come through until spring 2018 at the earliest, so the work now is preliminary.The lodge building is listed for about $125,000, and costs to get the building up to snuff are as yet unknownWhether Valley Youth Center picks up and moves completely or splits time between the spaces remains to be seen, he said. Plenty remains to be seen."We also have dreams," Salgy said of the potential new location. "A garden on the rooftop, a community garden; we've talked about an adjacent gymnasium ... At the kitchen in the basement we could do some meals for the neighborhood, and some of the office space might be able to be sublet out."

Related Topics: WEST DULUTH
Brooks Johnson was an enterprise/investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune from 2016 to 2019.
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